by Caroline Glick
Rashida Tlaib promotes a new blood libel against the Jewish state
Israel is the world leader in COVID-19 vaccinations. By late January, more than 85 percent of Israelis over the age of 60 had completed the two-round vaccination process. If the vaccination drive continues apace, Israel will have completed the vaccination of its adult population by mid-March.
Many observers watch Israel’s breakneck vaccination drive with admiration. But several powerful anti-Semites are using Israel’s unmatched efforts to protect its population from the pandemic as a basis for spreading a new blood libel against the Jewish state.
Israel, its haters insist, is engaging in “vaccine apartheid.” Israel is “racist” for vaccinating its citizens—both Jewish and non-Jewish—before it vaccinates the Palestinians, who are governed by the Palestinian Authority.
Representative Rashida Tlaib is one of the most powerful voices promoting this new blood libel. In a recent interview, Tlaib said of Israel’s vaccination drive, “[Israelis] have the power to distribute that vaccine to the Palestinian people, their own neighbors.”
Israel’s non-vaccination of the Palestinians, she accused, “just reiterates what the Palestinian people and even human rights groups have been telling us, that this is an apartheid state.”
Tlaib’s claim, which was repeated by her anti-Israel colleagues Representatives Joaquin Castro and Jamaal Bowman, is false and intentionally defamatory. Israel hasn’t vaccinated the Palestinians for the same reason it hasn’t vaccinated the Egyptians or the French. Like the Egyptians and the French, the Palestinians have their own government and their own health ministry that is responsible for caring for them.
That isn’t to say that Israel hasn’t given the Palestinians a tremendous amount of assistance in battling COVID-19. It has.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, and despite the fact that Israel has no responsibility for the Palestinians’ health care under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel has worked with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United Nations to train Palestinian medical personnel in testing and caring for COVID-19 patients. The PA opted not to join Israel in purchasing the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as part of its boycott of the Israeli government. Instead, the PA decided to purchase Russia’s Sputnik-5 vaccines, and Israel was happy to facilitate their delivery.
Not only has the PA chosen not to work with Israel in vaccinating its own population, but it rejected COVID-19 protective gear that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) donated to its population because the UAE flight carrying the aid landed at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport.
A sense of the depth and legitimacy of anti-Semitism in leftist circles in the U.S. and throughout the West today can be gleaned from the readiness of Tlaib’s fellow progressive lawmakers, leading “human rights” activists and media organizations to embrace her blood libel. Along with Bowman and Castro, and despite the fact that evidence abounds of Tlaib’s malicious dishonesty, groups like Human Rights Watch and media outlets like the BBC and were quick to jump on Tlaib’s anti-Semitic bandwagon and parrot her lie, rather than check its accuracy.
Inventing and disseminating blood libels against Israel is par for the course for Tlaib. The progressive congresswoman believes that Israel should cease to exist. Among other things, she is an avid supporter of the “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) efforts against the Jewish state.
In America, the primary victims of BDS campaigns are American Jews who support Israel. On campuses and throughout progressive circles in America, pro-Israel American Jews are subjected daily to ostracism and harassment for daring to support Israel and embracing their Jewish identity.
Jewish students and professors have been driven from the public square on American campuses. According to a recent report by the AMCHA Initiative, which tracks on-campus anti-Semitism, Israel-related anti-Semitism now surpasses classical anti-Semitism on American university campuses.
Classical anti-Semitic attacks on Jews—including Nazi rhetoric, graffiti and slurs—dropped by 49 percent in 2019, while Israel-based anti-Semitic attacks increased by 59 percent over the same period. Since the COVID-19 lockdowns sent students to virtual campuses, progressive, anti-Israel-based anti-Semitism has dominated the anti-Semitic discourse at universities, and accounts for more that 90 percent of anti-Semitism in online learning environments.
As the Biden administration begins its term in office, the anti-Semites in its political camp are maneuvering to leverage their political power. They seek to end official efforts to combat their anti-Semitism—an effort rooted in a rejection of Jewish peoplehood and hatred of the Jewish state. To this end, they are lobbying the new administration to curtail the civil rights protections that the Trump administration previously provided for American Jews.
In late 2019, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order extending Title VI protections of the Civil Rights Act to Jewish Americans. Trump’s executive order also adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) 2016 definition of anti-Semitism and that definition’s examples of contemporary anti-Semitism as a basis for applying the law.
The IHRA definition’s examples of contemporary anti-Semitism include examples of anti-Semitism rooted in the political Right, which center on hating Jews as individuals. These include “making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such, or the power of Jews as a collective—such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”
The examples also include illustrations of anti-Semitism from the Left, which center on hating Jews as a collective people and Israel as the Jewish nation-state. The examples include, “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavor”; requiring Israel to abide by standards of behavior “not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”; “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli society to that of the Nazis”; and “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel.”
These examples, which dismiss the common claim by Israel-haters like Tlaib and her colleagues that there is nothing bigoted about their position that the world’s largest Jewish community and only Jewish state—Israel—should be destroyed, and that its Jewish supporters in the U.S. should be ostracized and otherwise harassed, are now the target of a campaign to persuade the Biden administration to disavow the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
In recent weeks, outspoken anti-Israel campaigners and BDS supporters like Representative Ilhan Omar, former CNN commentator Marc Lamont Hill and New York Times columnist Peter Beinart have been pushing for the new administration to reject the IHRA definition and legitimize BDS. They have attacked Jewish Democratic groups like the Democratic Majority for Israel, as well as the vast majority of all American Jewish groups, led by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations—all of which are urging the Biden administration to maintain the previous administration’s policies.
These efforts are being driven both by overtly anti-Israel, nominally Jewish groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, and by ostensibly “pro-Israel” progressive Jewish groups, including Peace Now, J Street, T’ruah and the New Israel Fund. The AMCHA Initiative report found that since 2019, 44 percent of efforts to discredit the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism were carried out by these and other like-minded Jewish-run groups.
All of these groups are calling for the Biden administration to disavow the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and its examples of contemporary anti-Semitism as a legal tool for combating anti-Semitism. IfNotNow is running a social media campaign, as well, to lobby the Biden administration to appoint an official special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism who will simply ignore leftist anti-Semitism. As the group put it in a recent Twitter post, “It is important for us to demand that [President Biden] appoint someone to the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism who’ll be committed to fighting neo-Nazis and white nationalists, not Palestinians and students.”
It is a peculiar thing to see ostensibly Jewish groups dedicating their efforts to removing legal protections against anti-Jewish discrimination from their fellow Jews. It is a mark of the corruption of the American Jewish far Left that this is what they wish to fight for today. But even more disconcerting is the anti-Semitic disposition of large swaths of the Democratic Party. Democratic activist circles are now dominated by anti-Semitic voices from the Left who denounce Israel and its supporters. The effort by progressive Jewish groups to deny civil rights protection to pro-Israel Jews is indicative of the prevailing winds in the Democratic Party. Progressive Jews believe that to remain relevant in their party, they must fill the role of Jewish fig leaves for their party’s anti-Semitic activist base.
This then brings us to the object of their lobbying efforts—President Joe Biden. Wednesday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the occasion, Biden released a strong statement decrying anti-Semitism. Arguably more significant, however, is the fact that Trump’s executive order on anti-Semitism has been scrubbed from the Biden White House’s website.
Originally published in Newsweek.com.
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